July 20, 2012

Ethics and Capitalism: An Interview with James A. Sadowsky, S.J.—Part 5 of 9

The Distribution of Wealth
Some have said that capitalism is efficient for producing wealth, and so is an advance over socialism, which only distributes poverty.  A really effective means of distributing wealth, however, has not been found.
Of course it hasn’t, because the market does not distribute wealth.
What is the Church’s position on the distribution of wealth?
As far as I know, there is no official teaching that holds that the equality of wealth would be desirable.  What is wanted is a way to secure for all the satisfaction of their basic needs, not equality per se.  Leo XIII held [in Rerum Novarum] that “a transfer of private goods from private individuals to the community” in order to remedy existing evils “through dividing wealth and benefits equally among the citizens,” is a program “so unsuited for terminating the conflict that it actually injures the workers themselves.  Moreover, it is highly unjust, because it violates the rights of lawful owners, perverts the functions of the State, and throws governments into utter confusion.”
To what extent is economics a science like the natural or “exact” sciences?
I believe it is just like them.
But do you believe it has the same predictive power
No. Economics cannot predict anything.  If you maintain that, in order for something to be a science, it must have the power to predict, then I would say that economics is not a science in that sense, but rather in an older sense of the term.
To Be Continued